Archive for November 19th, 2008

Variable Search Engine Rankings

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

In the not too distant future it is though that search engine rankings will not be as static as they are now, but instead will be customised to individuals to provide more accurate results.  Recently, Bruce Clay suggested that this may happen as early as the first quarter of 2009, although there has been talk of customisable searches for several years.

The problem that this change is trying to overcome is ambiguity with words and phrases that have several meanings.  The term “jumper”, for example could relate to clothing, athletes, electronic components or the recent film.  Google and the other search engines currently have way of distinguishing between users’ intent.

With the help of cookies and ip addresses, the search engines will be able to effectively build profiles of Internet searchers and take an educated guess at what they are hoping to find in the results.  For example, If you have recently typed “jeans”, clothing” and other related keywords; when you come to type “jumper” the search engine may guess you are referring to clothing and filter out results from other categories.  Furthermore, by identifying and grouping IP addresses together, a search engine could build group profiles that apply to a particular town or set location.

For many website owners and SEOs this may seem like a daunting prospect as it can be seen as the death of ranking as we know it.  However, this change will be good for site owners as they will likely see a drop in competition.  It may become more difficult to quantify the success of an SEO campaign by looking at movement in the SERPs, but as any good SEO knows, the real measure of success is an increase in targeted traffic and an increase in sales or conversions, which can be seen in analytics.